Conference: Upstate Eight (River)
Nothing derails a defense like the sequence Geneva witnessed all too often in 2013.
"We stopped them for awhile," senior linebacker Wyatt Shodeen said, "and then we'd just let up a big play."
A return to the Class Class 7A playoffs after a one-year absence ultimately made 2013 a success, but a 'D' that surrendered 301 points in 10 games knows it must click if 2014 is to be any better.
Several veterans return to coordinator Frank Martin's unit, beginning with defensive end Matt Loberg (senior) and defensive tackle Steven Kemp (junior). Coach Rob Wicinski moved senior Jack McCloughan from tight end to defensive end, and early reports are favorable.
In the secondary, Pace Temple experienced a conversion of sorts in 2013. The talented wide receiver doubled as a cornerback as the staff coveted his athleticism to help stop the bleeding. Temple again will play both ways as a senior, but acknowledges a greater comfort in the defensive backfield.
"Last year was my first time really playing DB," Temple said. "This year, I'm more excited about it. I'm ready. I'm not just going to have to do it. I want to."
Temple's best friend, senior quarterback and Northern Illinois recruit Daniel Santacaterina, wants the attack to be more balanced after relying heavily on the pass last fall. Junior offensive tackle Loudon Vollbrecht, a 6-foot-7, 298-pounder who received an offer from Illinois in June, anchors the front five.
Fullback Max Woodworth flanks what coach Rob Wicinski calls a "three-headed monster" at tailback – Liam Burns, Justin Nebel and Justin Taormina – as the Vikings bid to bolster the ground game.
"It's a good vibe out here," Santacaterina said. "I think we've got a good feeling."
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com
Coach: Rob Wicinski (97-61, 16th season)
2013 record: 7-3 overall, 5-1 Upstate Eight Conference River. Lost to St. Patrick, 31-23, in first round of Class 7A playoffs.
Fast fact: Wicinski needs three victories to reach 100 for his Geneva career. He came to the school in 1999 after a 3-24, three-season tenure at Niles North.
Special teams spotlight: Wicinski, a traditional risk-taker, suggested he'd again play punting by ear in 2014, basing his decision on field position and game situations.
Bottom line: Daniel Santacaterina to Pace Temple is one of the top quarterback-receiver connections in the region. If the defense can rebound from a trying recent stretch, those two superfriends should play pitch-and-catch into November.
Memory banked: "My favorite memory is just probably being with these guys, the team that we have this year. We have a lot of team unity. I've spent probably my entire time playing sports my whole life, and I haven't been as close to a team or a group of guys as these guys."– Max Woodworth, Sr., FB
Aug. 29 @ West Aurora 7:30 p.m.Sept. 5 Richards 7:30 p.m.Sept. 12 @ Streamwood 7:30 p.m.Sept. 19 @ St. Charles North 7:30 p.m.Sept. 26 Elgin 7:30 p.m.Oct. 3 @ St. Charles East 7:30 p.m.Oct. 10 West Chicago 7:30 p.m.Oc.t 17 @ Batavia 7:30 p.m.Oct. 24 Larkin 7:30 p.m.
Marquee matchup: Oct. 17, at Batavia. The traditional rivalry game nearly returns to its Week 9 roots, and likely will produce the UEC River winner. "In our eyes, obviously it goes through St. Charles and Batavia, but it really goes through Batavia," Vikings coach Rob Wicinski said. "So nothing happens unless you go through red."
Aug. 30 Oswego W, 29-27Sept. 6 Wheaton North L, 40-27Sept. 13 Batavia L, 49-20Sept. 20 Larkin W, 41-34Sept. 27 St. Charles North W, 35-28Oct. 4 St. Charles East W, 35-21Oct. 11 Elgin W, 42-20Oct. 18 Metea Valley W, 49-45Oct. 25 Streamwood W, 55-6Nov. 1 St. Patrick W, 31-23